I love comedy and all the trailers for “Little” gave me hope that this was going to be good. With the producers of “Girl Trip” behind it and the talent from the hit show “Blackish”, this looked promising. In addition, it looked like an interesting twist on the movie “Big.” The audience was laughing the entire length of the movie, the film living up to its promise. It was brilliantly funny with incredible acting and a story with heart.
“Little” created by Marsai Martin who stars in the show “Blackish” by Kenya Barris, came to him with the idea when she was ten, inspired by the movie “Big.” He helped produce the film with Will Packer, written by Tracy Oliver and Tina Gordon, and directed by Tina Gordon, with Marsai Martin holding the title of executive producer. In the film, a ruthless tech mogul, Jordan Sanders (Regina Hall) bullies her staff and treats everyone around her with disdain. When she irritates the wrong person, she is wished into her younger thirteen-year-old self. She must relive the life of her younger self with the help of her assistant April (Issa Rae) to revert back to normal.
The story is a huge success. You get a sense of all the characters immediately. You see how Jordan treats those around her but you also see how she became so tough. We see how April is scared to stand up to her scary boss, too timid to pitch her ideas but also how smart she is. Through Jordan’s interactions with her staff and Trevor, the man she leaves listed as D in her contacts, we learn that she hasn’t left room for friendships, relationships or any love in her life. She is closed off and hard. But when Jordan is transformed, she must learn to embrace who she was as a child before the world beat her down, must learn to accept her true self as well as learn to accept friendship. Thematically, this is a well-done spin of Big, where instead of growing up, she must become little to learn who she is.
Much like the film Big, Little embraces humor to tell it’s a heartwarming story. And it does so hilariously. The humor is carried by both the physical actions of the actresses but also by the dialogue. There is one line, that references movies like Big, “This is for white people.” Those moments brought tons of charm but also tons of laughs. Another scene involves little Jordan dancing in a restaurant. By the end of the scene, the audience was laughing so hard you couldn’t hear the dialogue in the film. Between the gags performed by Issa Rae and then the situational humor of a 38-year-old in a thirteen-year-old’s body ending up in middle school, this movie rocks the funny, pacing the jokes perfectly throughout the movie and still managing to instill a heartfelt message about how to be your true self.
Of course, this all wouldn’t work nearly as well without the performances by some very talented actors. Regina Hall as the adult Jordan is commanding, tough, and does a marvelous performance. Her chemistry with Issa Rae is perfect, the pair of them like a seamless engine as they interact with each other. Issa Rae is splendid, her ability to perform comedy just beautiful to watch, engaging and as a viewer, I love her character’s growth as she learns to embrace her potential as well. She and Marsai Martin have equally great chemistry as they push back and forth, both in harmony and when they fight. Marsai Martin is genuinely phenomenal, her ability to emote as though a 38-year-old woman just exceptional. She is engaging and held the movie with her performance. There are others in the film that also do a great job. Luke James as the man who cares about Jordan despite her tough shell is both funny and sweet. Tone Bell as Preston, one of the staff at the company, who also has a thing for April, is also humorous and awesome as one of the secondary characters. Justin Hartley, playing Mr. Marshall, the teacher at the school little Jordan is forced to go to, has just the right touch, playing his character with kindness and providing laughs as well.
Beyond the comedy and the stunning work, I love that the writers and director made this about the woman and their friendship, with the men around them not the main focus of the story. This is about Jordan and April both discovering their true selves and developing a beautiful friendship. It is also great that Jordan is a powerful woman of color, who runs her own company and the message of the film never takes that power from her, just shows how she can share that support and her true caring spirit with her employees so that they all can win, not just herself.
If you love extraordinarily funny films, if you like women of color getting the chance to shine and you love the idea of the message, embracing your true self and learning to love those around you, I think you will love this film. It is full of heart, full of laughter, has incredible acting, and the comedy never misses a beat.
Rating: 5 out of 5 afros.